The Sunday Mail
Harmony Agere —
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has entered the third and final phase of the implementation of the new schools curriculum, Minister Lazarus Dokora said last week.
Implementation is being done in three phases, two of which have already been completed under the guidance of Curriculum Framework 2015-2022.
“The process started with the review of the curriculum for Primary and Secondary Education resulting in the Curriculum Framework 2015-2022 that has been under implementation in phases: Inception phase, September to December 2015 and Phase 1, January to December 2016,” said Dr Dokora. “Phase 2, January 2017 marks implementation for selected classes.”
Presenting a ministerial paper titled “Ground Zero: Getting Traction” in Kadoma last week, Dr Dokora said the selected classes were ECD A, Grade 1 and 3, as well as Forms 1, 3 and 5.
ECD B, Grade 2, Grades 4 to 7, Forms 2, 4 and 6 will continue with the old curriculum until they reach the class in which the curriculum is being implemented.
This will create a smooth transition from the old to the new system.
Experts say the latest implementation phase has several “new and positive” things.
And the introduction of indigenous languages as the medium of instruction in infant school (ECD to Grade 2) is one such positive move.
While the language of instruction in infant school has always been predominantly indigenous, a clause in the new curriculum now officially provides that the “medium of instruction at this level shall be the indigenous language which is commonly used or spoken in a particular area as outlined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe”.
This is meant to create improved interaction between teacher and learner as the ministry thrives for skills oriented curriculum.
As such, the infant school will consist languages (indigenous language as medium of instruction), visual and performing arts, physical education, mass displays, mathematics and science, heritage studies, information and communication technology (ICT), among other learning areas.
The Junior School (Grade 3-7) will, for the first time, be studying agriculture as a subject while science and technology as well as visual and performing arts study areas have been included.
According to the framework, the secondary school curriculum should offer learners from Forms 1 to 4 a broad-based curriculum from which they acquire the necessary competences from different learning areas to cater for their diverse talents, interests, aptitudes and abilities.
The choice of learning areas at this level guides learners on progression to various career paths or further studies and should be guided by the ministry’s emphasis on STEM, visual and performing arts, humanities and languages.
Therefore, Minister Dokora set a minimum of 10 core subjects in secondary school.
“Each learner shall participate in at least ten (10) learning areas, seven (7) of which will be cross cutting and three (3) to five (5) others will be necessary electives,” said Dr Dokora.
“The necessary electives indicate a choice of pathway by the learner at Forms 5 and 6.”
For Forms 5 and 6 the curriculum promotes the five pathway system which includes Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM), among other learning areas. A learner is placed into a pathway of choice using the acquired competences and learner profile record.
All learning areas retain the same weight.
Experts say with subject areas such as STEM, visual and performing arts as well as physical education, the Government is finally achieving its dream of moving away from content based learning to skills oriented education. Perhaps the most innovative of Government’s envisaged continuous assessment is the School Annual Science, Sport and Arts Festivals (SASSAF). “The festivals shall be organised at all levels as part of an assessment strategy to gauge or measure the levels of achievement that learners have acquired,” said Dr Dokora. “These festivals shall provide opportunities or space for teachers, learners and their communities to appreciate the general performance of learners against the goals of the curriculum.”
The festivals start at school and cluster levels in the first term then district and provincial levels in the second and finally the national level in the third term. This is also expected to create competitiveness in learners while also assessing their abilities.But monitoring in the new curriculum does not stop with the learners only as the teachers will be inspected at least once every month.
According to Minister Dokora, internal and external supervision shall be undertaken to ensure effective implementation of the curriculum. “Heads shall ensure that teachers are supervised in line with Teacher Professional Standards (TPS) at least once every month.”Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu, hailed the implementation process but hastened to add that there are also challenges.
“We are agreeable to the implementation of the curriculum because it is something which is going to change our education system for the good,” he said.
“It is only two weeks since schools opened but we are already picking that there are some challenges in the implementation of the curriculum.
One of the main problems is that some of the teachers are at the moment failing to interpret the new syllabus.“This problem is mainly a result of lack of extensive training of educators. There is need to mobilise resources for this cause as well as the development of the new syllabi and text books which conform to the new curriculum.”
Mr Ndlovu said there is also a shortage of teachers as learning areas had become vast.
“The other issue is that of inadequate human resources, the number of learning areas has become vast and the educators are not enough, in some cases there are no specialist teachers for areas such as visual and performing arts.
“Still on Visual Arts you will also find that there is another challenge of infrastructure. However, above all this the curriculum has all the right tenets to make our education system the best, what we need to do is for all of us to unite and make it work.”